Monday, January 07, 2008

I can press when there needs to be pressed


Friday, Bush did back-to-back interviews with Israeli television, with Al Hurra, the tv station the US operates in Iraq and the Middle East, and with Al Arabiya.

Asked if he can really achieve peace by the end of 2008, he lowered the bar a tad: “I think we can reach a vision of what a Palestinian state would look like.” So Bush is visiting the Middle East to “reach a vision.” Because people having visions in the Middle East has never created any problems before.

IN OTHER VERBS WORDS: “And so the goal is to have something other than just verbs -- words. In other words, here’s what a state will look like.”

ICE CREAM FOR EVERYONE!: “There needs -- Abbas, who has agreed that Israel has the right to exist, must be able to say to his people: be for me, support me, and this is what can happen; if you follow the way of the terrorists and the killers, this will never happen.”

THE GREATEST UNDERSTATEMENT IN THE HISTORY OF GREATEST UNDERSTATEMENTS: “I also believe that the leaders know me, and I know them, and that there’s a -- you know, they say, well, are you going to have a time table? One time table is the departure of President George W. Bush from the White House -- not that that I’m any great, heroic figure...”

IN OTHER SCARY WORDS: “It means to me that Iran was a threat and Iran is a threat. In other words, just because they had a military covert program that it suspended doesn’t mean, one, they could restart it. And two, doesn’t mean that their capacity to enrich couldn’t -- you know, so-called civilian program -- couldn’t be transferred to a military. So I see it as a threat.”

HIP REPLACEMENT: “I tell my friends from Texas, I left the state with a state of principles, and I’m returning with the same set of principles.” Still in their original shrink-wrap. “And I didn’t compromise my beliefs in order to be the popular guy, or the hip guy, or the guy that every -- you know, the cultural elite likes.”

BUSH REVEALS WHEN HE FIRST NOTICED THAT THE SUN IS YELLOW: “You know, my first trip to Israel, and only trip to Israel, was in 1998. And I remember being in a hotel room and opened the curtain over the Old City, and the sun was just coming up, and it just glowed. It was golden. And I told Laura, I can’t believe what I’m looking at.” And she told me that the people outside my window were saying the same thing and could I put some pants on.

Yes, that joke was inspired by Life of Brian.

How he can help the peace process: “I can press when there needs to be pressed; I can hold hands when there needs to be -- hold hands.”

SOMEWHAT UNFORTUNATE METAPHOR: “There’s going to be all kinds of distractions, and people will be trying to throw up roadblocks and people will be trying to cause these gentlemen to -- not to -- lose sight of what’s possible. And my job is to help them keep a vision on what is possible.”

THE FIRST STEP IS TO: “And so the state will come into being, subject to, but the first step is to -- here’s what a state will look like.”

On Lebanon’s stalled presidential process: “We’re making it awfully clear to -- publicly and privately -- that Sleiman, who was selected by the -- by a lot of the players there inside Lebanon, is the right choice; if that’s what they want, that’s who we support”. Traditionally, it’s considered a major violation of diplomatic protocols to support a candidate for office in another country. Just saying.

HONORING THE NOTION: “And yet, as opposed to honoring the notion of staying out of -- and to stop obstructing politics, Syria just has not been helpful at all.”

He says “Lebanon’s survival as a democracy is, in my judgment, very important for the world,” but he won’t be going to Lebanon, because “there’s only so much time.”

THE SAME MESSAGE: “Therefore, part of our strategy is to get others to send the same message that I’ve consistently been sending to President Assad: If you want to be isolated, if you want to be -- or if you want -- you have a choice: Do you want to be isolated or a part of the world? You can make the choice. You can hang out with a limited number of friends, like Iran, or you can have better relations in the neighborhood and in the world. It’s your choice to make.” Because the Middle East is just like a high school lunch room.

Actually, it kinda is.

AS OPPOSED TO CHIMPY DIGNITY: “I would hope that they would say President Bush respects my religion and has great love for the human -- human being, and believes in human dignity.”

Al Arabiya asked if Bush would ask Olmert to halt settlement activities, which they called a major obstacle to peace. Bush wouldn’t even give them that much: “I think the major obstacle to peace is going to be the politics of both Palestinians and Israelis trying to take advantage of the difficult work that these two leaders are going to have to do to define a state; that’s what I think. I think that extremists, in some instances, will try to stop the peace.” After a bit more blather, he conceded that settlement activity is “a problem” (as opposed to an obstacle), but that he would personally do nothing about it: “But there’s a mechanism to deal with that, and that is the road map commission... to deal with these road map issues. Now, we can solve those -- we can work through those problems, but the key is to define a state.” I would have thought that the presence of citizens of another country occupying large chunks of your territory, not subject to your laws and authority, protected by a foreign army, might have a little something to do with defining a state, but that’s just me.

WORKING WITH CONDI TO UNSTICK IT: “And what ends up happening in this process is that the leaders will commit, and then they’ll get their committees to work, and it gets stuck. And that’s when I’ll have to work with Condi Rice to unstick it”. I’d put a joke in here, but each version of “Like the time I got my ( ) stuck in ( )” I come up with is more disturbing than the one before.

BECAUSE IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU, GEORGE: “I hope that as a result of this interview and my trip, that people come away with the notion that George Bush understands now is the time to move.”

Says he cares about Palestinians because “my religion teaches me to love your neighbor.” I didn’t know he even knew my neighbor.

Iran “will be a danger if they’re allowed to enrich, because they can take the knowledge on how to enrich and convert it to a covert program.”

However, “I also believe that the Iranian people are not bad”. They’ll be thrilled to hear you think so.

But what thrills George? “you know what thrills me the most is that the average Iraqi’s life is becoming more hopeful.” Also, anything shiny. Shiny things thrill him because they’re all shiny.

WHAT ARE THERE TOO MANY OF? “There’s still too many suiciders”. He did not say how many suiciders is the right amount.

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